Called To Freedom | Galatians 5

Galatians 5 | Called To Freedom

Man from the very beginning has been seeking freedom. The fact is when most people receive freedom, it is abused. And what is true in the political and sociological world is also true in the spiritual world. I would like to focus today Christian freedom and its potential boundaries. The Word of God gives us freedom and also is well balanced with some controlling factors to prevent abuse of freedom. We are living in a time when Christian freedom is being abused. We are going to see what Paul says about Freedom and the control factors on Christian freedom.

Galatians 5 | Called To Freedom

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Paul is giving us two aspects here: Either you are free or you are enslaved.

Illustration: The British ruled India from 1858 to 1947. The British oppressed the Indians, exploited our resources and Indians were taking into different parts of the world as slaves by the British East India Company. Then the freedom fighters of our land fought and got us freedom from the British. In the process many had to lay down their lives for the nation.

Likewise, all humanity were in the slavery of sin and Christ died for us and achieved for us the freedom from sin and death. This freedom in Christ comes to us just by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now talking about freedom, Paul in Galatians 4 gives an analogy of Abraham’s children. Isaac was the promised son Abraham through Sarah who was free woman and Ishmael was the son of Hagar who was a slave woman.

Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

Now, the problems with the churches in Galatia was that after Paul preached salvation by faith, false teachers had come and preached that you need faith in Jesus plus the fulfillment of the law to be a child of God. So Paul is telling them, “When one receives Jesus, one is free in Christ. So not get back to slavery by obeying the law.” Paul is not against the law. Apostle Paul is not concerned about Jews obeying the law. Paul was concerned after the receiving Christ, the Judiazers forced the Gentiles to obey the law.

See Paul’s allegoric explanation here: Galatians 4:22-23 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

Paul gives two categories here: Sarah, the free woman & Hagar, the slave woman.

Slave CategoryFree Category
Hagar, the slave womanSarah, the free woman
IshmaelIsaac
FleshPromise
Mount SinaiSpirit
Present JerusalemJerusalem Above

Galatians 4:28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.

Now Paul connects to the Jewish false teachers as the children of the flesh, and Paul associates the Gentile Galatian believers as the children of the Spirit.

The son of the Hagar’s son persecuted Sarah’s son, Isaac and he is telling it is the false Jewish teachers who are persecuting the children of the spirit, the Galatian Christians. So get rid of them as Abraham got rid of Ishmael.

Galatians 4:29-31 29At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Paul is saying we are here in the realm of freedom by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, do not get back to slavery, the old ways of life. You have been set free into the fullness of enjoyment in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Nature Of Freedom In Christ

Now, we need to understand what the nature of this freedom is. The freedom what Paul is talking is not about the modern kind of libertarian freedom where you can do anything you want in the name of freedom.

What Has Jesus Set Us Free From?

  • Free From The Burden Of Our Sins.
  • Free From The Guilt Of Our Sins
  • Set Free From Empty Religion.
  • Free From The Penalty Of Sin (Justification) And From The Power Of Sin (Sanctification).
  • Free To Call God “Abba Father.”
  • Then, Free To Approach The Throne Of Grace With Confidence (Hebrews 4:16)
  • Free From The Fear Of Death.
  • Freedom From Falsely Constructed Identities.

Having my Christian freedom associated with any kind of ethnicity.

  • Freedom From Socially Put Upon Expectation.
  • Freedom From Condemnation From Other Christians For Not Being Good Enough.

Do not try to package Christianity in a number of different terms. This is how you can have the perfect Christian life: Buy this book, go to these seminars, if you want to be a Christian you need to be like. So what happens, people who practice family this way, people who worship this way try to pass judgement on people who practice family that way and people who practice worship another way. If you do not believe what I say, you pass judgement on others. Freedom in Christ is being free from all of that kind of stuff. It is freedom from people pressing their expectations on you to determine what really pleases God. What pleases God is a life of faith lived in self-sacrificial love and freedom to participate fully in what God is doing to experience the liberating power of the Spirit.

The freedom that Christ gave us is the experience of the liberating power of the Spirit when people from different regions, people from different languages and ethnicity sit together experience the wonder of God’s blessing with people other than I am.

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

This is the freedom in the fullness of what God has done in establishing a one multiethnic family in Christ Jesus. To break every social and cultural barriers in Christ, yet keeping our cultural identity.

Jesus spoke about freedom

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:36 So If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

We receive freedom from sin just by putting our faith in Jesus. We do not have to do anything other than believe. Paul is saying that if at any time the Jewish believers are getting back to their law for salvation or the Gentiles are getting back to legalistic faith, you are losing out the whole point of the sacrifice of Christ and faith in Christ.

Paul is going to highlight three consequences if they chose to go back under the law or legalism:

Galatians 5:2-4 2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Consequences Of Legalistic Faith:

  • Christ is not value to you
  • You have been alienated from Christ.
  • You have fallen away from grace.

Paul is very concerned that people understand what that freedom means and how that freedom is controlled.

How do we express that freedom in a way that is pleasing to God?

Now in order to make clear how this freedom is controlled, Paul gives us three things that freedom is not.

1. Freedom Is Not The Freedom To Indulge In The Flesh.

To say we are free in Christ doesn’t mean we are free to give expression to our sinfulness.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

You’re not so free that you can allow your flesh to do whatever it wants.

Now what is the flesh? Your flesh is your fallen human nature.

Romans 6:7-8 7because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

The old you is dead. The old man is dead. And you have risen to walk in newness of life and the life of God dwells in your soul. And you possess the incorruptible, divine nature. The deepest truest part of you is a redeemed part, totally transformed and linked to Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 Corinthians 6:17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Romans 7:21-23 21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

When you sin sure, God will forgive you. But that is an abuse of your freedom.

It is not freedom to do what you want. It is not freedom to do your own thing.

Christian freedom is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin.

Christian freedom does not mean we do whatever we want to do. It’s like the soldier picture in 2 Timothy 2:4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. Don’t let your flesh be the base of operation.

Well, let me give you a handful of questions that will answer how you deal with our flesh. You can ask these questions as you do your everyday activities of life.

Will It Be Spiritually Profitable For Me?

1 Corinthians 6:12 I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

Instead of thinking, “How can I live as close as possible to the edge of sin and survive” you ask the question that is at the other end of the spectrum, “Is this spiritually beneficial? Is it to my advantage?”

Will It Build Me Up Or Will It Edify Me?

1 Corinthians 10:2 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

Is it going to actually make me stronger as a believer? Is it going to lift me up, build me up, edify me?

Will This Weigh Me Down?

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

What are the things that hinders our race? This is unnecessary weight that we carry, small things that can hinder or interfere with our faith. So the question is: If I do this, will it hinder my running the race of faith? Will it weigh me down? Do I need to carry this?

You don’t see a hundred-meter sprinter with a blazer. You don’t see an athlete going out to run a marathon carrying a backpack. That’s the unnecessary bulk.

If I Do This Will It Be Likely To Start A Habit?

1 Corinthians 6:12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 

Will It Be Consistent With Christlikeness?

1 John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Will It Glorify God?

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

So you see, a Christian is not saying, “How much sin can I get away with? A Christian instead says, “How devoted can I be toward godliness, purity, and holiness? How can I eliminate out of my life anything, even things that aren’t forbidden but that have the power to pull me in the wrong direction?”

Christian freedom is not free to do whatever you want.

2. Freedom Is Not Freedom To Hurt Others.

The freedom Christ has given us is to love one another, not to hurt one another.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Serve one another in love. The freedom that Christ has achieved for us is to do service in love.

Galatians 5:15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

“Bite and devour each other” — “bite” is a word used most often in the Bible of snake bites and “devour” means to gulp down totally. If you bite people like a poisonous snake and devour one another, you better take heed that you’re not destroying yourself.

I have seen in my pastoral ministry that there are people who use freedom to tear down others. Their intention is to stop their progress, to throw them out and they will take any means to achieve that. If you think you have your liberty just to devour other people, you’re wrong. Your liberty is to serve people. So, Christian freedom is not freedom to injure other people.

So a Christian cannot say, “I’m free in Christ, I’ll do whatever I want, I really don’t care how it affects you.”

You have never been given liberty for the purpose of hurting someone else, no matter how weak that person is. We are to serve each other in self-sacrificing love.

Serve in Greek is the word “doulo.” It means a bond slave. So your freedom is a kind of serving others as a servant.

Paul Spoke About Love and Service:

Romans 14:1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

Romans 14:20201it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

1 Corinthians 8:9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

Love And Service Are The Heart And Soul Of Jesus.

Philippians 2 This is the behavior of Christ.

Philippians 2:5-8 5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very natureGod,  did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

So what does Christian freedom mean? It is freedom to oppose the flesh and freedom to serve others, not cause others to stumble.

3. Love Is The Law In Which Christian Freedom Is Exercised.

Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Some people think that when it says in the Bible we are free from the law. They think that being free from the law means that we’re no longer responsible to obey the moral commandments of God.

How Can One Practice Such Freedom?

Live Through The Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

:5-6 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Our freedom has to be exercised by walking in the spirit, not according to the flesh.

Galatians 5:16-18 16So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:19-21 19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22-26 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? Very simply, where does the Spirit reveal His will and direction?

In the Word of God.

We have to be saturated in the Word of God on a day-by-day basis so that the Word of God implanted in the mind and the heart becomes the control vehicle by which the Spirit of God leads us as we live day by day. And when we’re filled with the Word of God, controlled by the Spirit of God, walk in obedience to that revealed will of God, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh, but we will fulfill the law by loving each other.

Spurgeon said, “Holiness is essentially voluntary.” It’s a fight for joy and peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. And against such there is no law.

In fact, our freedom is controlled by three things: It is controlled by purity of life, loving others, and obeying God’s Word. And those are the things that cause us to walk in the Spirit. Those are the things that cause us to enjoy to the fullest the freedom we have in Christ.

Well, let us enjoy our liberty but let us understand its limits and rejoice in the blessedness that comes when we obey them.

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